Eurotrip 2011: Paris.4

Our Eurotrip is well under way! See all that you've missed here.

Sunday - our last day in Paris - came much earlier than Saturday.  N had booked a photo tour for me with Better Paris Photos at 9:00. (Note to self: On our next big trip, schedule all tours and museums and sightseeing and everything else that requires intelligence for after 10:00 a.m.) Fortunately, we were greeted by sunny (albeit chilly) weather as we traveled via metro to the St. Paul station. It was here that we met our small tour group - one other couple, and our sweet Russian tour guide. N was the only tour participant without a DSLR (which is also why he didn't have to pay the hefty €145 price.) Except for a couple iPad photos, he stuck with being a subject more than a participant.

Our guide, Elena, started by showing us a few features within our cameras to help us identify our best photos. She emphasized using the camera's histogram (accessed in my Canon Rebel t1i by pushing the DISP button twice while reviewing a photo). Basically, a histogram without lots of super high peaks or super low valleys means that the amounts of lights and darks in the photo are well-balanced, resulting in a pleasing photo. 

Elena especially concerned herself with improving our composition skills, show us how to de-clutter a photo by keeping it about just one subject, and helping us look for the "stories" in every scene. She wanted our photos to allow viewers to feel and taste and experience our vacation. She also encouraged us to delete unwanted photos, and just concentrate on taking and keeping a few gems.

I hope you're feeling and smelling this autumnal scene, or I've failed miserably!
The tour was slow-paced and took us off the typical tourist path. We spent time in the courtyards of "hotels" (residences), wandering through the gardens, looking for interesting shapes, textures, and people.

The following is my show and tell.

A man sketches in a hotel courtyard, framed in greenery.

Thank you, iPad, for helping my co-traveler endure the early morning.

Fun with early-morning shadows.

Always looking for repeating patterns (in Place des Vosges).

Featuring texture and time.

Framing the subject makes it more interesting.

Trying to capture the people living their lives. A typical Sunday morning.

More texture from a fountain.

Typical scenes from this street, but capturing a different angle.

Sets of three are visually pleasing.

Repeating arches.

Just a normal bench, but capturing its interesting shape.
We meandered into the Jewish quarter of Paris (Le Marais), where Elena showed us how to use store front windows to capture typical street scenes.

There was no escaping more delicious food on this final day in Paris. We shot both the sweet and the savory offerings.

Traditional pretty macaroons.

Popular Jewish bakery. 

Mmmm baklava.
We ended our tour with learning about capturing moving objects (like cars, bikes, and people.) Getting the exact right aperture/shutter-speed/focal point combo (generally on the manual setting, but could also use shutter-speed priority) takes some practice, but since we set our cameras to take multiple shots with each push of the shutter, usually one in the series would turn out.

I wouldn't call these perfect, but they capture the motion and movement of the Parisian lunch hour.

We waved good-bye to Elena, then retraced our steps to a popular falafel shop called L'As Du Fallafel on rue des Rosiers. This restaurant was hopping, with a long line waiting for the falafels served from a window. As we placed our orders (and paid) while waiting in line, the efficient, in-and-out system reminded me of Pat's or Gino's Cheesesteaks in Philly, where if you don't know what you want ("wit Whiz" or "witout Whiz"?), you'll be crucified by those standing behind you! (It is Philly, after all. Love that place.) 

I went with the standard falafel with tzatziki sauce. Absolutely delicious, and stuffed to the brim!

We maintained our slow pace throughout the rest of our afternoon and evening, even squeezing in a nap (to deal with my newly-developed head/chest cold), and eating Nepalese food for dinner with our hosts while casually discussing things like schools, politics, language, and travel. I think couchsurfing is like being a foreign exchange student as an adult. It's all about open discussion, understanding a new culture, and comparing and contrasting world viewpoints. 

We rounded out the evening with more homemade dessert crepes. I, for once, passed up another chance at Nutella and went with a traditional butter & sugar crepe - light and delicious. It was a pleasant way to conclude our first couchsurfing experience as guests. We felt thankful for the opportunity to meet P&R and explore their wonderful city. 

Onward to Belgium! Up next.


  1. I love the pictures of random people--you're brave! Awesome to have a photography lesson abroad!


  2. Great photography Jenn!!! I need to take some lessons with all my worldly travel!

  3. Jenn - love your photography skills! GREAT job! :) You're just getting better and better! Loved the "wit whiz" part - HAHA. I could just hear it. I just tried falafel the other day and LOVE it! Sis Alison makes it and Mom brought some home :)